CES 2015: Best of Innovation Winners Roundup

AIR CES2015

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) honors the Best of Innovation Award winners for 2015.

aNewDomain — This year, as always, International CES honors new innovations in an array of categories with its Best of Innovation Awards. The CES 2015 winners range from household names like Dell and Samsung to smaller entrants, like NightHawk and AIR.

Starting Tuesday, showgoers can get up close and personal with these gizmos at an onsite showcase. But if you want to grab a sneak peek now — or if you aren’t making it to Las Vegas — here’s a preview of innovations that run the gamut from tablets and printers to floating audio speakers, a wireless padlock and way beyond.

CES 2015 Innovation Winners

One of the many eyecatching items on this year’s list is an optical mouse from a start-up called Swiftpoint, Inc. The winner in CES’ Computer Peripherals category, the Swiftpoint GT is touted by its makers as “the first mouse allowing truly natural touch gestures, without touching the screen or having a touch display.” Measuring about 2.2 inches by 1.7 inches, it comes with padded thumb and finger grips. If you own a laptop, you can use it on top of the palm rest, if you want. This versatile little electronic critter is intended to work with Windows 10, 8 and 7, in addition to Mac, iPad, Android, Bluetooth and wireless USB.

SwiftPoint GT CES 2015 CROP

Meanwhile, the days when headphones covered a lot of your head are long gone. As one piece of evidence attesting to this trend, NightHawk’s AudioQuest features a semi-open over-ear design. Some compare the latticework in these gadgets to what goes on inside a butterfly’s wing. These headphones also incorporate multiple patented inventions, and they outperform more costly competitors (or so we’re told). Naturally, of course, the winner in CES’ Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies must be made from eco-friendly materials.

NightHawk CES 2015

Also in the proverbial audio arena, this year’s winner in the actual Headphones category — BRAGI’s The Dash — is a completely wireless “hearable,” for freedom of movement that’s presumably totally unfettered. You can play back music through a Bluetooth connection or use the embedded 4GB music player. List priced at merely $299, The Dash multitasks in a bunch of ways too, including audible coaching, movement tracking and biometric data capture.

BRAGI CES 2015

Now that Barack Obama has become the first U.S. President to agree to a 3D portrait, it’s clear that 3D has entered the mainstream. The 2015 winner in the CES 2015 3D Printing category, the Fuel3D Scanner, is a handheld, high-res scanning system for 3D shape and color capture. Geared to consumers as well as professional artists, this is a point-and-shoot device, and it requires no color calibration. Supposedly you can capture a 3D model of a person’s head in a matter of seconds.

Fuel3D 04 CES 2015

If you do get to Vegas, and you happen to come across speakers floating in the air, don’t pinch yourself. You’re not dreaming. It’s real! AIR’s Axxess CE is a Bluetooth speaker that levitates over its base. To turn it on or off (or to keep it from falling), you simply blow on the speaker. A patent is pending on this floating wonder, the victor in CES’s Portable Media Players and Accessories category.

AIR Axxess CE CES2015

Against a backdrop of lesser known CES award winners, a few big brands (including Dell) stand out. Dell and Android have been flirting with each other for a good many years. The relationship has grown quite serious — Dell takes home a prize this year for the Venue 8, billed as the thinnest tablet in the world at only six millimeters. Dell’s Venue 8 is also the first tablet to sport the Intel Real Sense Snapshot Depth Camera. If you haven’t heard by now, other specs include a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor running at 2.3 GHz; an 8.4-inch OLED touchscreen with 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution; 2 GB of RAM; 16 GB of onboard storage; and MicroSD card slot expandable up to 512 GB.

Dell Venue 8 CES 2015

Not to be outdone, Samsung gets the nod in the Wireless Handsets category for the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, an Android smartphone with a unique curved screen made of Corning Gorilla Glass. Other noteworthy features include an S Pen; Snapdragon 805 chipset; Super AMOLED touchscreen display with 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution; Bluetooth 4.1 wireless; integrated WLAN; and fingerprint, accelerometer, heart rate, gyro and other sensors.

Portable printers have really come of age with the emergence of the ZUtA Pocket Printer, winner in the Computer Accessories category. Literally tiny enough to fit inside your pocket, ZUtA Labs’ cute but capable new innovation features a robot that crawls the page on any size pager, putting down the ink. This printer is a lot slower than a laser or even a dot matrix number, but it’s designed to produce two to four pages in a matter of minutes no matter where you happen to be.

ZUtA Pocket Printer CES 2015

The 94Fifty SmartSensor Basketball system has been bouncing around for a while now. The general idea here is to use sensors aboard a basketball to help players improve their game by measuring muscle memory, learning the players’ strengths and weaknesses and serving up appropriate training. What’s new is an app that works with Google Glassware. The Glassware app grabs a prize in CES’s Software and Mobile Apps category.

If soccer is the name of the game instead, Adidas has an answer with its Small Ball system. The ball contains integrated sensor technology that detects spin, speed and flight pattern data and transmits this info wirelessly via Bluetooth. Adidas takes top honors in the Fitness, Sports & Biotech category.

Adidas Smart Ball CES 2015

Several of the other CES honorees are aimed, at least in part, at crime prevention. A prime case in point is Noke, a Bluetooth-enabled padlock for your possessions. Developed by F?Z Designs, Noke can be used with a smartphone app that lets you do things such as remotely giving temporary access to your locker to a friend while you’re out of town. Alternatively, you can open the lock manually through a series of long and short taps. FUZ is the winner in CES’s Wireless Handset Accessories category.

FUZ Design Noke CES 2015

For safeguarding your home, the iCam HD Pro gives you full HD video and multi-viewing with 360 degrees — count ’em! — of rotation. Object tracking and Skype integrations are additional niceties. This security camera from Amaryllo International B.V. takes home the virtual trophy in the Embedded Technologies category. The camera combines a cube-style design with a wide-angle lens.

Amaryllo iCam HD Pro CES 2015

With home security as only one of its targeted applications, Sengled’s Snap gadget is an indoor/outdoor LED PAR lamp offering an integrated 720p IP camera, microphone and speaker. Functionality includes cloud recording and playback, voice and motion sensitivity and facial recognition. Snap, the winner in the Smart Home category, also foresees commercial uses for Sengled.

Sengled Snap CES 2015

Ceiling fans have come an incredible way since back in the 1920s, when they were only affordable by the massively rich. Yes, Zalman USA’s Multi-function Air Light (Z-Air) is indeed a light. Specifically, it’s a ceiling dome lamp. But this hybrid device also contains hidden fan blades, along with an air purification system and “smart automation” for operating the ceiling gizmo. The category? Home Appliances.

Zalman Z-Air CES 2015

Qualcomm WiPower, the top dog for Portable Power, isn’t a product. It’s a technology, getting its first uses in the Qualcomm Toq smartwatch, Snapdragon 805 processor and VIVE two-stream 802.11ac solution. Qualcomm also envisions incorporation into devices like cameras, fitness trackers and medical monitors. In sum, WiPower offers remote charging over radio frequency (RF) wireless.

Qualcomm WiPower CES 2015

Moving along to the Home Speakers category, the Philips Fidelio Wireless Surround-on-Demand Soundbar is meant to make Surround Sound simpler and less expensive. The Soundbar includes two wireless detachable rear speakers which you can place behind you to enjoy Surround Sound in your living room (or anywhere else in your house). Earlier this year, Philips updated the Soundbar with the Fidelio B5. Now, both the Soundbar and these two speakers can also be used as independent Bluetooth speakers.

Philips Fidelio Wireless Surround-on-Demand Soundbar CES 2015

Ever hear of Atmos, Dolby’s top-of-the-line audio technology for movie theaters? Well, in the middle of last year, Dolby announced that Atmos would soon be arriving to home theater systems. The Elite SC-89 is a 9.2-channel A/V receiver that makes good on that pledge. Not only does it decode Atmos code, but it also supplies D3 amplification and MCACC Pro acoustic calibration. It earns an award in the Home Audio-Video Components and Accessories category.

Dolby Atmos CES 2015

At CES 2014, iHealth made news with personal health devices for monitoring ambulatory blood pressure, pulse and electrocardiogram data. At this year’s show, the health technology specialist garners an accolade in the Embedded Technologies category with iHealth Align, a smartphone-enabled glucose meter for diabetes management.

iHeath CES 2015

Aesthetics have long acted as a big differentiator in the audio speakers space. Alfred & Partners’ Estelon Extreme speakers — the winner for High Performance Home Audio-Video — certainly constitute no exception. The sculpturally inspired hand-crafted speakers, standing up to two meters high, are made from a marble-based composite material. As for the audio technology itself, this revolves around two modules: a lower one, for housing the bass drivers, and an upper module, for isolating the high, medium and mid-bass drivers and allowing users to adjust the speakers for optimizing sound in terms of the audience’s position and room specifics.

Alfred & Partners’ Estelon Extreme CES 2015

Sony’s a75 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera is supposedly the world’s smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera. Geared to professional photographers, the camera incorporates advanced features such as 15.3 stops of dynamic range, a 4K-optimized sensor and uncompressed 4K output via HDMI. Sony is the winner in, what else? The Digital Imaging category.

For BMod, I’m Jacqueline Emigh.

Image Credits in Order of Appearance: Swiftpoint, Inc., NightHawk, BRAGI, Fuel3D, AIR, Dell, ZUta, Adidas, FUZ Designs, Amaryllo, Snap, Zalman, Qualcomm, Philips, Dolby, iHealth, Alfred & Partners

About the author

Jacqueline Emigh

Jacqueline Emigh is a New York City resident and a veteran tech journalist, with thousands of bylined articles to her credit. Over the past 20 or so years, Jacqueline has worked full-time as a site editor at Ziff Davis, senior editor at BetaNews. and software editor for TechTarget's TechnologyGuide Division. As a freelancer, she's written news stories, features and reviews for tons of big name sites and mags, including PC World, PC Mag, eweek, Computerworld, Informationweek, ZDNet, Byte, American Banker, Windows in Financial Services, Linux Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, Linux.com, Wireless Integration, Government Security, and Portable Computing, to name a few.

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